For the first three years of my life, I was given away to my mum’s older sister. This felt like a huge rejection for me.
Growing up I had a very low opinion of myself and felt unloved by my parents.
When I started school, I found it hard to be left alone. Mum would take me to school and I would cling to her for dear life because I didn’t want to leave her again. I used to get teased and was always picked last for sports teams.
At secondary school, I started hanging around with the wrong sort of people. Where I lived it was normal to get drunk and go out fighting in gangs. Deep down, my conscience told me I shouldn’t be doing this, but I did it to fit in with the crowd.
It was the same when I got into drugs. I started smoking cigarettes, then drinking, smoking cannabis and then heroin, again just to feel part of the crowd.
Next I was introduced to crack cocaine, which blanked out all the pain in my life. It was like I had a void in myself and needed something to get rid of it. I was injecting crack and heroin for around fifteen years. You can imagine the chaos I was in – I was barely seven stone, I wouldn’t eat at all. I would just get up and go shoplifting to get money for drugs.
That was my routine, day in day out. Finally, I just broke down in tears in a police cell. I just wanted to kill myself; I couldn’t go on like that an more.
Eventually I went to detox and then a Salvation Army hostel before coming to Yeldall Manor in April 2004. I began to get my life back. It’s a difficult programme and, when I was there, there were some residents who weren’t taking it seriously, but you need to be selfish in a way and just get on with what you need to do. If you follow the programme properly, it will help you. While I was at Yeldall I got baptised, having become a Christian whilst I was at the Salvation Army.
I am part of a church where I feel really loved; I’m happily married and I enjoy getting alongside other residents and ex-residents to help them out too. It’s been a hard path but God has worked miracles to get me where I am today – clean from drugs.”